What is COPD? (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Do you have trouble with your breathing on a regular basis?
If the answer is yes, you may have a condition known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD for short. COPD are diseases that make breathing difficult. The two most common conditions that lead to COPD are Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis. Emphysema is a condition when the linings of the tiny air sacs(alveoli) in your lungs become damaged beyond repair. Over time, the lung damage gets worse. In chronic bronchitis, exposure to tobacco smoke and other pollutants cause lung irritation and over time can lead to inflammation in the airways that deliver air into the lungs via the bronchial tubes. As a result, the airways produce more mucus than they would otherwise. The Inflammation reduces air flow to the lungs causing coughing and shortness of breath, and as time progresses, it will become harder to breathe.
If you live in a metropolitan city, you have probably noticed the air is thick with smog. COPD is common in cities where effluents from motor vehicles and other pollutants are thick in the air. Air is essential for life, and the air in most major cities is polluted far beyond safe thresholds and is likely to cause harmful effects in the long term.
Furthermore, in densely populated cities with a large concentration of vehicles, factories or other sources of air pollution there is “leakage” of pollutants from the city to outlying areas. Similarly, the hazards in one place can become airborne and reach far beyond their source. Another common misconception is that, if the air does not have an odour, it is safe to breathe. Many pollutants or hazards can become airborne without being detected. Some pollutants, inhaled even in trace quantities can have adverse health effects.
COPD is a common effect of Air Pollution, but there is a broad range of undesirable effects, from irritation in the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat to fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. In severe cases, the respiratory tract and lungs can be affected and can lead to severe impacts on an individual’s health. Listed below are some of the diseases that can occur due to or because of COPD:
- Asthma attacks
- Impaired lung function
- Pulmonary cancer
- Mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos
- Birth defects
- Immune system defects
- Cardiovascular problems
- Heart disease and stroke
- Neurobehavioral disorders
- Liver and other types of cancer
- Premature death
The Global Burden of Disease Study reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally in 2016, and out of these more than 90% of COPD deaths occur in low and middleincome countries.
The number of COPD cases are increasing at an alarming rate. The general lack of awareness of COPD can prove to be lethal if not attended to during the early stages. Hope this blog helps shed some light on COPD and how neglected it has been throughout the years.